For Christmas, I gave my new friend appendicitis.
That’s what she feared when we finally spilled out of the car after a 12-hour trek up north. We entered my in-laws’ home pale and exhausted, my friend clutching her side and wondering if she’d brought her health insurance card.
It turned out to be just muscle cramps and dehydration, which was good, since I had planned to
give her a Dayton Flyers T-shirt instead.
My friend is Melody Asaresh Moghadam from Iran, an undergraduate music student. At 22 years old, Melody spent her first Christmas ever surrounded by my loving and exuberant extended family. We filled Melody full of sugar cookies and eggnog, and she nourished us with traditional songs strummed on her four-stringed setar.
I started working at UD the same year Dan Curran became president, so I have witnessed the transformation of our campus into a global learning village. Being a member of UD’s communications staff, I write often about how important it is for our domestic students to learn from their international counterparts.
But what goes unacknowledged is how their presence enriches us all. My husband and I have served as an International Friendship Family to Melody from Tehran and Kevin Ishimwe from Rwanda. This magazine has hired Zoey Xia from China and Arthur Su from Taiwan to take amazing photos of campus. I have learned how to say welcome in many languages and forgotten how to say goodbye in many more. Always, the University’s goal in facilitating these interactions is to help students manage the transition and become full participants in campus life. Always, the true outcome is something that sounds like a medical condition: the swelling of our hearts, the expanding of our minds, the enlarging of our circle of friends.
When people hear Melody’s story — how she flew into Dayton with four carry-ons and not a friend or relative within thousands of miles — they say she is brave. She replies she is not; she just did what she needed to do — to perfect her playing, to improve her English, to choose a religion.
I continue to share holiday texts with Kevin, who is now studying nursing in Michigan. I receive baby photos from Arthur, who has returned to Taiwan with his wife and daughter. And I share full-belly laughs with Melody: about the appendix attack, and the way my husband cannot pronounce the “geh” in her last name, and how she showed up for what she thought was a music audition and left cast as the
comedic equivalent to Bob Saget.
When we have finished laughing, and are red-faced and exhausted, we marvel at how different we are from how each other’s government imagines us — two women in Dayton Flyers T-shirts, students of the world.No Comments
I did not have a prominent place in coach Tom Blackburn’s thinking as practice began for the 1961-62 season. For the team picture, Tom placed the players destined to be benchwarmers in the back row.
I’m near the middle of the back row.
Four players had locks on starting positions, the Hatton brothers (Gordie and Tommy) at guard, forward Garry Roggenburk and center
Bill Chmielewski. In early-season games, Blackburn tried a big lineup with 6-10 Bill Westerkamp as the fifth starter. Westerkamp played center, and Chim moved to a forward spot. So one of them had to guard a forward, and neither was used to guarding a man who was facing the basket. But we won our first six games.
Our first loss was to a good Wisconsin team. Two more wins were followed by an unexpected 10-point loss to Canisius and then a devastating 20-point loss to 8th-ranked Duquesne. After the Duquesne game, UD students hung Tom in effigy. He was quoted as saying, “We are just not a very good team.”
During this stretch, Tom tried Stan Greenberg and Ron Anello as starters while I continued to warm the bench. After a close win over Louisville at home, we were trounced by 1961 (and soon to be 1962) NCAA champion Cincinnati.
Tommy Hatton, who was our team’s co-captain with Garry, told me later that after the Cincinnati loss Tom asked him, “Well, what do we do now?” And Tommy replied, “Try Schoen.” He did.
Tom told me I would start against Eastern Kentucky and guard their top scorer. Don Donoher, Tom’s top scout, worked with me on how to defend my man. Rather than follow the usual rule at the time that a defensive man should always stay between his man and the basket, I was to stay between my man and the ball. The man I was guarding was a good shot but did not move quickly without the ball. Don’s work with me was right on target. My man scored just six points while I scored 14 and had 10 rebounds. We won, 97-66.
I started and played well in two close wins against tough DePaul and Drake teams, but then we had a one-point loss at Xavier.
The season’s low point for me was the next game, when Detroit came to Dayton with its first-team All-American, 6-6 Dave DeBusschere. I prepared to fight him hard for position inside. On Detroit’s first possession DeBusschere came down court, pulled up and swished a 25-foot jump shot. The next time, the same, then a fake and a drive in for a lay-up. Then more long jump shots, hardly ever missing. Tom took me out and tried two or three of my
teammates on him and then me again later. DeBusschere scored 44 points, the most by a visiting player in the history of the UD Fieldhouse. We lost by 22.
After the game, our furious coach put us through practice, including very punishing running drills.
About that time Tom told me, “Don’t worry about scoring. These other guys can score. You just concentrate on stopping the man you’re guarding.” I became pretty good at overplaying players so they had a hard time getting the ball. Based on Don Donoher’s scouting reports, I would prepare for where the player I was to guard was likely to go on the court to get the ball so I could beat him to the spot. On offense, I mainly tried to get the ball to our center.
The team really began to click then, winning our last seven season games, the last six by an average margin of 16 points.
At 20-6, we were one of 12 teams in the NIT.
Wins over Wichita, Houston and Loyola of Chicago by an average of 14 points took us to the finals against St. John’s. The game was on national television, the first game of a college basketball doubleheader. The second game was the 1962 NCAA Tournament finals in which Cincinnati beat Ohio State
for the second-straight year.
The day before the final game, I wrote my brother Jim trying to tell him of the contrast between basketball in the barn where he and I had practiced together in my high school years and in Madison Square Garden.
St. John’s had beaten Duquesne by 10 points in their semifinal game to bring their record to 23-5. They had three NIT championships in 13 appearances. The Garden was almost like their home court.
But we won the game, 73-67.
With a little under a minute left, St. John’s coach Joe Lapchick walked over and shook Tom’s hand, congratulating him on his first NIT win after five second-place finishes.
Chim was MVP, and Gordie was on the all-NIT team.
Tom grinned from ear to ear when he accepted the championship trophy, saying, “It’s been a long time coming, and I’m going to hang onto it and enjoy it as long as I can.”
In the media, Tom was very complimentary of all his players including me. He said that I had played great defense during the tournament. In Sports Illustrated’s April 2, 1962, issue, he is quoted as saying we were “The best team I’ve ever had” — a complete reversal of his early January assessment, “We are just not a very good team.”
The above is an abridgment of a chapter from Schoen’s memoir, Growing Up, available from Amazon as a paperback or an e-book.No Comments
Call it a challenge to all fellow UD alumni.
After a visit to campus for the first time since graduating in 1969, the women of 1614 Alberta St. crafted a plan to ensure other alumni reconnect, reunite and give back.
Scattered around the country after graduation, the former roommates once sent a round-robin letter, each adding a letter to the envelope before sending it on. “Sometimes it took a full year to get to everyone. But I was proud of us for keeping it up for several years,” said Karen Dreidame Weber.
After that, it was Christmas cards and occasional reunions with a few of the roommates. But in July 2014, everyone was able to make it to the Cincinnati area for the first-ever full reunion of 1614 Alberta. “We just picked up right where we left off. It was like no time had passed,” Weber said.
The group — including Carol Mattingly Hallett, Ellen Dickinson Byrnes, Kim Costin Carmichael, Kathy Fortman Hutter, Patty Cunerty Rees and Weber — arranged to take a tour of campus. The one place they weren’t able to see on the tour, however, was 1614 Alberta. In its place is ArtStreet, an arts-based learning-living facility that opened in fall 2004. “It was sad to see that our house was no longer there, but we were really impressed to see the rest of campus,” Rees said. “It’s amazing to see the changes, the growth that has occurred.” James Brothers from the Division of Advancement acted as their tour guide.
In honor of their experience at UD, the roommates created the 1614 Fund. They have pledged an annual gift, allocating the yearly amount to an area of their choosing. “We were really impressed with the new physician assistant practice program while on our tour, so our first gift will be toward that,” Weber said.
They have issued a challenge to other alumni who are former roommates, teammates or groups of friends to do the same.
“This has been a great thing to bring us together again and to feel like we continue to be a part of the University,” Rees said. “We’d love to see it be contagious for other alumni to celebrate their time here and continue to enrich the lives of future UD graduates. We are grateful for the time we had at UD, as we know so many others are.”No Comments
The sniper killed Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero as he raised the chalice during Mass on March 24, 1980. Pope Francis declared Romero a martyr for the faith; the archbishop, known to many Latin Americans as San Romero de las Américas, was beatified in May.
Romero never set out to be a hero or saint. But when he became archbishop of San Salvador in 1977, social upheaval was escalating into civil war. His transformation was swift.
“When I became archbishop, priests were being killed, accused, tortured,” he was quoted by Moises Sandoval in the September 1980 Maryknoll magazine. “I felt I had to defend the Church. Then again, I felt that the people the Church has to serve were asking me to defend them. … I felt I had to be the voice of all those people without a voice.”
In his last Sunday homily, Romero spoke directly to soldiers and police: “I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression.”
Assassins silenced him the next day. Or so they thought.
Thirty-five years later, Blessed Romero continues to inspire Salvadorans. Cleveland native Leslie Schuld ’84 counts herself among them. She has made El Salvador her home for 22 years, living out a Marianist ideal of partnering with the poor. In San Salvador, she directs the Center for Exchange and Solidarity (CIS), building international support for grass-roots movements for social and economic justice and participatory democracy.
In January 1992, peace accords ended a 12-year war in El Salvador. As Salvadorans mourned their 75,000 dead, they began rebuilding their country and resuscitating their democracy, preparing for elections in 1994.
The CIS joined that effort in 1993, and Schuld moved to El Salvador to participate. CIS programs grew to include a Spanish-English language school; vocational and economic development for disadvantaged communities, including crafts cooperatives; promoting clean water; providing scholarships; and
coordinating international delegations as well as electoral observer missions.
In 2008, Schuld met the Romero Community — 180 families seeking relocation. Some were displaced by the war, others by earthquakes, landslides and a hurricane. They resolved to find a permanent home. They chose their martyred archbishop as their spiritual patron. They were committed to nonviolence.
Officially landless, they squatted on unused government property. After evictions and arrests, they realized that to provide their children with secure homes, they needed help in acquiring the land legally.
Even with the CIS’s advocacy, they endured years of bureaucratic delay, as well as threats and violence from others wanting the land. Many families became too frightened and exhausted to continue.
Today the Romero Community comprises 75 families, whose perseverance is now bearing fruit. In May 2015, Salvadoran President Salvador Sánchez Cerén transferred title for 15 acres to the community. Nine days later they celebrated again; this time the occasion was the beatification of their beloved Romero.
Construction is under way. The CIS is raising funds for 70 humble but dignified homes to replace rusted bedsprings and sheets of tin draped with plastic. In August, I visited the community and toured their model home. Since then, a well has been dug, and community members are constructing the next 20 homes. The rest will follow as resources are secured.
Archbishop Romero said: “I do not believe in death but in the resurrection. If they kill me, I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people.” He’s fulfilling that promise, in part, in the Romero Community.
For more on the Center for Exchange and Solidarity, see www.cis-elsalvador.org. Romero’s commitment to social justice also lives on at the University of Dayton, which since 2000 has given the Archbishop Óscar Romero Human Rights Award for the promotion of “the dignity of all persons and the alleviation of the suffering of the human community.”No Comments
Text from a presentation by Una M. Cadegan, associate professor in the Department of History, given Jan. 26, 2016, during the Symposium on the State of Race at UD.
Good afternoon. My name is Una Cadegan. I have taught at UD, mostly in the history department, since 1987, and I am also an alumna of the university.
I am honored to be asked to speak today as part of the opening of this symposium. I will make two brief points as a historian, a cultural historian of US Catholicism, and then make a final observation more as a Christian, a Catholic Christian formed by long association with Marianist education.
First point: the history of the Catholic Church in America with regard to race is partly admirable and partly shameful. We could go a long way back, and talk, for example, about Catholic slaveholders in colonial Maryland. But even if we concentrate on the more recent past, we can see both things to admire and things to be ashamed of. In the photographs of the marches of the modern civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, we often highlight the priests and religious sisters and brothers who marched in their Roman collars and their habits, advocating for racial justice. We Catholics are proud of them, as we should be. We hold them up as examples of the best of our tradition, which is what they are.
But we also know that many of the people opposing civil rights for African Americans, especially in the cities of the north, were also Catholic. White urban ethnics—and I am very aware that I am talking in some cases about the parents and grandparents and great-grandparents of people in this very room—opposed integration in their neighborhoods, then sold their homes and moved to the suburbs, then participated in political movements and political decisions that made sure that the policies that had made their own assimilation and social mobility possible were unavailable to the new citizens of the city centers of the urban north. And many, many of these voters and their political leaders were also Catholic. This is a failure that is still affecting our society and our church today, and we have not yet really begun to grapple with it.
So that’s the first point—we have not yet truly begun to face the whole truth of the extent to which Catholicism was complicit with racism in the very recent past—a past so recent it shapes the present in direct, tangible, measurable ways.
My second point is related, but briefer. When these issues are raised among white Catholics (not only among Catholics, but that’s my focus here today), one response that often comes up is: well, Catholics were also discriminated against, and look at us now. We’re fine. If we did OK, then whatever is the problem with African Americans must be their fault, not the fault of the discrimination.
If you are tempted toward that argument (and I understand the temptation), or if you know someone who has made it (and I think we all do), let me just say very clearly—it does not work. The differences between anti-Catholicism and anti-black racism in the US, at every point where we can make the comparison, are more crucial for the present moment than the similarities. This is not a historically defensible way out of our need to face the truth about Catholicism and racism in the US, in the deep past, the recent past, and in the present.
Which brings me to my third point. Christians do not need to fear the truth. We all know the present moment is difficult, contentious, and often ugly—but I can’t avoid the feeling that is it also graced. Something is moving that is different from anything I can remember. We might, as those formed by Marianist educational purposes, call it a sign of the times. We might, as Christians, call it the Spirit. But make no mistake about it, we are being summoned to respond. Here, in this place, dedicated to knowledge and service, but for so long so, so separate from our neighbors across the river in the city whose name we took on nearly a century ago. As I’ve heard and read in several places recently—if you ever wondered what you would have done during the Civil Rights movement, now is your chance to find out. As a historian, it is my job to see clearly just how deeply racism is intertwined with the history of this country. But as a Christian, I have to believe what our president said last week in his State of the Union address, quoting Dr. King: “Unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Let’s try it and find out.
Some resources for further reading:
Bishop Edward K. Braxton (Diocese of Belleville, IL), “The Racial Divide in the United States: A Reflection for the World Day of Peace, 2015” (available at www.usccb.org).
Shawn T. Copeland, LaReine-Marie Mosely, and Albert Raboteau, Uncommon Faithfulness: The Black Catholic Experience (Orbis Books, 2009).
Bryan N. Massingale, Racial Justice and the Catholic Church (Orbis Books, 2010)
John McGreevy, Parish Boundaries: The Catholic Encounter with Race in the Twentieth Century Urban North (University of Chicago, 1996).
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Research Report Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of “Brothers and Sisters to Us,” US Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Racism (2004; available at www.usccb.org).No Comments
As one of the strongest athletes in University of Dayton history, benching 380 pounds, it’s obvious that Charles Little knows a little something about the training and work ethic required to hit a personal best. Now, Little is sharing his fitness tips with people around the world who want to reach their fitness goals.
Little, a starter on Dayton’s 2009 NCAA Tournament team, retired from a five-year basketball career in Europe and began to pursue his next athletic challenge. From his new home in Chicago, he earned his personal trainer certification. Immediately, requests for help came rolling in from friends and family across the country. This got Little thinking.
“I realized that I could reach anyone through online workout videos and recipes,” Little said. He created an online business, One5Fit.com, to share his top workout and nutrition tips — everything from how to use intimidating gym equipment to the importance of consistency.
“One of my biggest challenges as a trainer is just getting people to the gym,” Little said. “Fitness has a cumulative effect so I give people tools to get stronger and healthier one step at a time.”
One5Fit’s customers log on from Dayton to Austria. Customers choose from one of three training programs, and Little checks in with them often to make sure they’re getting stronger and eating well (he is also studying to become a nutritionist). Little keeps busy with a training job at a Chicago gym, doing everything from training a bride-to-be to reconnecting with UD classmates.
“In hindsight, my career path actually makes sense,” Little said. He just needed to take what he learned as a student on the court and apply it to being a teacher in the gym.No Comments
Pay attention to the toys you play with as a child — they may just illuminate your career path.
For Chris Jones, it was model airplanes.
“Airplanes and aerospace were in my blood,” said Jones, who served 29 years in the military thanks to a service path laid by his father and three older brothers.
His work in the military focused on defense. At one point, his way was very focused.
“While I was in college, I worked at Aberdeen Proving Ground … and one of my jobs was to deploy semi-active landmines and then walk through the landmine field to determine what would detonate them,” he said. “That’s a very good summer intern job, but it taught me to be very humble.”
Jones told that story at the awards ceremony where he received the 2016 Black Engineer of the Year Award from U.S. Black Engineer magazine and BEYA.
He served in both the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard, and while stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force based earned master’s degrees in aerospace engineering and engineering management from UD.
His civilian career path has also focused on defense.
Jones is corporate vice president for Northrop Grumman’s technology services sector. Previously, he worked as part of the team on the Hawkeye early-warning aircraft; now, part of his job includes overseeing the team developing the new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.
He said he credits student and professional engineering organizations for his successes.
“I’m a product of what’s really good about this country,” Jones said, also noting the people in his life who’ve supported and guided him.
That includes family, whom he remembers each time he steps on an airplane. He sends his mom and aunts postcards every trip he takes — almost 50 a year.No Comments
When John Malone, an associate engineering manager at Tesla Motors, sees a sleek Model S sedan whipping down Bay Area streets or the new Model X SUV, its Falcon wing-like doors yawning open, he feels a bit like a proud father.
After all, it’s Malone’s 22-person team of engineers and operators that, after receiving the painted electric vehicle body, install the guts during an exhaustive, extremely precise 9-hour process — everything from the headlights to wheels, seats and windshields.
“We put the whole thing together and make a product that people actually buy,” Malone said. “It’s a rare opportunity to be a part of a company that is so impactful.”
The opportunity to work at the innovative Silicon Valley darling presented itself in 2013 when Malone was working at Honda, a company where he had a co-op while studying mechanical engineering at UD. Malone jumped at the job offer and headed west to San Francisco where he routinely calls on co-op program experiences and classes like senior design. Together, it’s an education Malone calls “incredible.”
“Never in the real world do you get a problem that’s neatly defined,” said Malone. “I see something happening at work, and the principles I learned in class and during my co-op time
In fact, when Malone needed to hire a summer intern, he called his mentor and former professor Kevin Hallinan, who helped him recruit UD School of Engineering student Jared Page ’16. Malone called Page “an extremely high-performing
And while 80-hour work weeks are the norm at Tesla, there are perks including an opportunity to present multiple briefings to CEO Elon Musk. He also received a coveted invitation to the fall 2015 launch of the hotly anticipated SUV, the Model X, where Malone got a chance to talk to the very first owners of the $80,000 vehicle.
“I find it awesome to be a part of the electric car industry,” Malone said. “I really think it will lead to massive changes in transportation.
“Working at Tesla has always been my No. 1 career goal.”
Mission accomplished.No Comments
My wife, Suzanne (a three-time UD grad), and I went to the rededication of UD’s Chapel of the Immaculate Conception this August. The chapel held many memories for us. A photo from the 1970s shows our first two children, Liz and Mike (both two-time grads), as very young people sitting on the floor near the altar at an overflow Father Norb Burns’ Mass. Father Jim Russell remembers our youngest child, Ben, in the 1980s, playing air guitar during hymns at Mass.
For the dedication, Suzanne and I wanted seats near the door. Some time ago she was diagnosed with heart conditions, in recent years compounded by congestive heart failure; a long ceremony could be too much. So we sat in the last row on the left, near the side door.
It was also where often I had sat alone, having left my work behind in my office and come to the chapel to contemplate whatever one contemplates after a child dies, as did Ben nearly 20 years ago. I looked over at Suzanne. Her face seemed contorted. Tears were in her eyes. I feared an episode with her heart.
“What’s the matter?” I said.
She replied, “Nothing. It’s just so beautiful. It’s just so beautiful.”
That was the only time she made it to the renovated chapel. She died Sept. 22.
Liz and Mike and their families and friends and colleagues (and owners and waitresses and bartenders at Suzanne’s and my favorite restaurants and even apparent strangers) have given me, and each other, support that a theologian might reflect tells us something of the Mystical Body. It tells me Suzanne touched a lot of people.
“She had a kind word about everyone,” someone said, “even the most difficult people.”
“But she didn’t mince words,” Liz’s husband, Tony, said.
Nobody saw a contradiction between kindness and honesty.
Mike spoke at her funeral Mass. “My mom was selfless and unconditionally kind,” he said. “She taught my sister, Liz, my brother, Ben, and me strong values and the importance of family, faith, hard work, kindness, tolerance, generosity, forgiveness and love.”
He spoke, too, of her competitiveness. On one family vacation, Mike’s wife, Jenn, thought playing beach bocce with Suzanne might be a relaxing game. Suzanne, Mike said, “body-checked Jenn, nearly knocking her to the sand, in order to line up her next roll. My mom rationally explained, ‘She was in my way, and I am here to win.’”
The congregation of friends and colleagues from UD and Kettering Medical Center (where Suzanne managed the clinical lab before retirement) thought Suzanne was a winner, too. When Mike finished, they broke into applause.
Back at work now, again doing some part-time writing and editing for this magazine, I recently edited a piece in which Brother Ray Fitz prays to be able “to ponder the mystery of God and creation.”
And, as I did years before, I again frequently leave my desk behind and walk to the chapel. I sit where I sat with Suzanne at the dedication, where I sat after Ben died. I stare at the statue of Mary. I stare at the stained-glass image of Jesus on the cross. And I listen.No Comments
“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”
Strong words from a leader respected around the globe. And while he is neither a research scientist focused on climate change nor a politician tasked with protecting the resources of his country, Pope Francis’ words in his encyclical — Laudato Si’: Of The Holy Father Francis On Care for Our Common Home — carry weight among world leaders and practicing Catholics alike.
Pope Francis reinforced his strongly worded encyclical message during his recent trip to the United States.
“Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity,” he said in his Sept. 25 address to the U.N. General Assembly.
He went on to address the “boundless thirst for power and material prosperity,” the “misuse of available natural resources” and the impact they have on the “weak and disadvantaged.”
Francis is not the first pontiff to express his concern about the environment. In his first encyclical in 1979, Pope Saint John Paul II warned that human beings frequently seem “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption.” He went on to call for a global ecological conversion.
The tone of Francis’ encyclical, however, is one of urgency and action.
As Francis says, “It is my hope that this Encyclical Letter, which is now added to the body of the Church’s social teaching, can help us to acknowledge the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face.”
Referring to his namesake as “the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically,” the pope implores us to follow in Saint Francis of Assisi’s footsteps.
He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society and interior peace.
There are many ways to put the pope’s encyclical message into practice in our daily lives. Campus scholars weigh in on meaningful messages in the document, how to put Francis’ directives into action and why it matters.
Professor of Physics and in the Renewable and Clean Energy Program, and Director of Research, Hanley Sustainability Institute
“It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. … Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile. This is due partly to the fact that many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. … Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
The last sentence Pope Francis writes is especially important.
Overall the pope is asking Catholics, and indeed all of us, to think integrally about our actions. Every small action we take has an impact, and therefore we should find ways to use fewer
resources — become far more energy-efficient, for example. I will get more concrete, although it’s not directly what the pope says. We, in the United States, should be clamoring to pay more taxes to build up infrastructure suitable for the future, such as renewable energy. We should be taking care of the least fortunate in our society and providing educational opportunities at appropriate levels to all. And we should think about our international obligations to aid development of those who will be most vulnerable in a changing climate. Our parents and grandparents did their part to provide appropriate infrastructure for us, but the current generation has become selfish and said, in effect, “We don’t care about the future because it might be too
expensive to us today.”
I am not Catholic, but as someone deeply interested in sustainability, I think we need to pay more attention to promoting renewable energy, wasting less, eating less meat and more locally. But Pope Francis is talking about something much bigger and more systemic and comprehensive, much of which should resonate no matter our religious beliefs.
SISTER LEANNE JABLONSKI, F.M.I.
Scholar-in-Residence for Faith & Environment at the Hanley Sustainability Institute, and Director of Marianist Environmental Education Center
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. …
Pope Francis’ “A Prayer for Our Earth” in Laudato Si’ encapsulates the call to tenderness and empathy through transforming encounters with all our neighbors — plants, animals and every person near and far.
I had a life-changing encounter while teaching global environmental issues at Chaminade University in Honolulu. The students — most from small Pacific Islands — shared their love of the ocean and how shorelines were changing through the accumulation of imported cans and bottles and the decrease in freshwater availability with erosion. I spoke about how climate change was predicted to increase storm frequency, raise sea levels and exacerbate saltwater intrusions. One student, Iumi, exclaimed, “Are you telling me my island and culture are disappearing? What are you going to do? Move us somewhere else and ship us bottled water?” Tears welled in me, as they do in each retelling. The next day, Iumi approached me: “I spoke out because I think you can do something about it.” I replied, “We each must do what we can and work together.”
Pope Francis is calling us to dialogue and action. We must mitigate the effects of climate change — choosing solutions that conserve resources, encourage energy efficiency and renewables, and create jobs and healthier air for all. To build bridges across perspectives — such as scientists and engineers providing expertise to faith communities — by forming partnerships and not working
Everyone needs to get involved and share their gifts, no matter where we are coming from. You could write a letter to the editor; I’ve seen people who have never even tried to write for a newspaper express in their own voice how important this is. Policymakers value constituent concerns. Get involved with a creation care team. Check with your local diocese or adjudicatory or visit the Catholic Climate Covenant (www.catholicclimatecovenant.org) to learn about opportunities to connect. Take the community spirit that you knew at UD and build a community in harmony with the environment where you are now. A Laudato Si’ online course (vlcff.udayton.edu) or a study group can support changes.
Little changes in the home, workplace and congregation can also make a big difference. Think about adjusting the thermostat and shifting to LED lights. Planting native plants will attract butterflies and birds and restore ecosystem services including air cooling and purification and preventing run-off. Visit meec.udayton.edu for educational resources.
Acting together, we are making a difference.
VINCENT J. MILLER
Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture, Department of Religious Studies
Francis’ message is essentially a spiritual one — one that nonetheless has profound economic and political consequences. He is asking us whether we can open our hearts to honor and care for all of those who sustain us and with whom we share our planet. Francis asks us to open ourselves to the best scientific arguments available as a way of attending to God’s creation.
“Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.”
We need to think on many levels.
First of all, the Vatican has been very explicit that this encyclical is timed to build moral pressure for governments to act with courage at the Paris climate talks in December. Pope Francis challenges President Obama, the U.S. Congress and the United Nations to act responsibly.
We need to follow his example and lobby our elected officials to negotiate and implement a strong agreement in Paris.
The United States has the highest per capita CO2 emissions rate of any major nation. We need to take serious steps as a nation and as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint. One of the most surprisingly effective ways to do this is to eliminate or seriously reduce our consumption of red meat. Eating lower on the food chain radically reduces the carbon fuel required to sustain our diet.
On the most personal level of change, we need to open ourselves to the world around us to see our interconnections with and responsibility for the rest of creation. Learn about backyard habitats. Connect with a local conservation group. Connect with an organic farm in your community.
The challenge we face is both spiritual and structural. We have to open our hearts and minds to the damage we are doing to the world around us. We need to act quickly to transform our energy system in order to leave our children and grandchildren a world that they can flourish in. Time has run out — we must change and act. The science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson once described our age as “the great dithering.” We owe our children more than that.
SISTER ANGELA ANN ZUKOWSKI, M.H.S.H.
Director of The Institute for Pastoral Initiatives, Professor of Religious Studies, and Marianist Educational Associate
“As Christians, we are also called to accept the world as a sacrament of Communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbors on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet.”
The idea of accepting the world as a sacrament of Communion shifts our perspective on how we interact with creation and all human beings. To be a “sacrament” is recognizing that it is a mirror of the creator. It calls for seeing with new or clearer eyes the beauty that embraces us every second of the day. It demands of us a renewed sense of respect and reverence, virtues which appear to be disappearing particularly in our modern Western civilization.
The words touch us where we need to be touched — in our conscience, mind, heart and lifestyles. We are called to a radical conversion in how we live and relate to the ecological and human factors of our world. This radical conversation involves, as Pope Francis constantly articulates, the reality that everything is connected. We do not live in silos, in isolation, but are by our very nature in communion with all things. In this sense of communion, we are called to be good stewards and care for all with compassion and love.
Finally, we are reminded, yes, we are pilgrims along the way. We are only passing through and we are called to care for the Earth and humanity mindful of the next generation. This idea of passing through helps us shift our lifestyle from thinking only about “me” and “my needs and wants” to what is best for the common good.
Bear in mind “not what I need and want” but how do my actions, lifestyle or way of life possibly impact the next generation? Am I over consuming? Where am I overconsuming? Whether it is food, water or energy use, how can I live more simply realizing less is more? Each day we need to awake and ask the question: How can I live more simply today? How can I raise the consciousness of others by my witness to preserve resources for the next generation? It may seem insignificant for one person, but when, as a community, we live more intentionally, it makes a huge difference. Once we begin to live more consciously with how we spend our time, use our finances and resources and realize that we are called to be stewards of creation and one another, everything can change. Most of us cannot bring about huge changes in the system, but we can change how we enter into each day and encounter and use the gifts that are offered. Everything can become a sacrament of encounter if we only have “eyes to see and ears to hear” (Deuteronomy 29:4).
I believe Pope Francis is striving to raise our consciences to the fact of integral ecology. We need to spend quality time reading, reflecting and discerning what this means for us as a community. This is a moral and ethical obligation — not simply a challenge — and each of us needs to contemplate our lifestyle and strive to work together for the common good for future generations.
Plus: Read how one student finds her place in her faith among a sea of pilgrims.